By Alexandra Kay – Well beans writer, teacher, and Mummy.
My children move, a lot! Even during quiet tender moments while breastfeeding my seven-month-old is stroking my skin, kicking his legs (quite energetically!) and also suckling…
At bedtime when soothing my two-year-old to sleep he wriggles and wriggles, strokes and squeezes my arm, moves his toes and again kicks with varying degrees of energy. Although at times this can be frustrating it is my belief that these small beings are doing this because they need to, gaining the feedback their bodies need, physically preparing for sleep, releasing any extra energy or tension. Just being.
“Releasing any extra energy or tension.”
It is usually the case that from birth the child is actively encouraged to move, it is sad that for some reason such a weighty expectation is put on child and mother; is he sitting yet? can he roll over? is he crawling? And so on. I feel we need to be patient and allow the baby to initiate his own development, enjoy the beauty of each stage the child reaches. But when the toddler or child has reached these massive milestones and is in full swing of movement, running, jumping and rolling then in many cases comes the adults desire for that child to stop: “Slow down!”, “Stop running!”, “Sit still!” Children move, they move a lot. Well, guess what? They need to, there are reasons why young children and grown-ups feel the desire to move, there is a reason why children fidget in class, swinging legs, rocking chairs, drumming hands, and fingers. Is it healthy for us to suppress this? Is there a way that we can harness this desire and create more harmony in the learning environment?
“There is a reason why children fidget”
Even as an adult sat at the computer writing, at the kitchen table with a book, knitting, playing scrabble, I will feel the need to get up and stretch, make a cup of tea, move into a different position, to rest and remove my focus from the task for a small while, to re-energize. Our body and mind tell us to stop. Increasingly we are being told to listen to our bodies, yet it feels to me that a huge amount of effort is being put on children to resist this. There is scientific evidence to support the observation that movements and breaks are beneficial to the learning mind and environment. Why have schools divided the learning days into chunks and these chunks into smaller chunks? It is to assist the learning process to help make the environment and structure as well as content more accessible to individuals and this is good, but is there more that can be done? Would it be more beneficial that rather than encouraging movement, group activity etc. within that learning objective that we escape it completely for a while and then return, empty our mind, make more room?
Scientifically talking movement increases blood flow, therefore, delivering more oxygen to our brain. Movement has been proven to enhance motivation and self-assurance, improve memory, strengthen learning and reduce the need for classroom management.
” Movement has been proven to enhance
motivation and self-assurance,”
Consider the home environment and life beyond school. Are our children moving enough? If they are not moving enough at home then the desire to move or run riot elsewhere is of course stronger! It is the sad truth that our society has evolved in such a way that toddlers and young children are not given this freedom that their development really needs due to parents fears, insurance claims and the structure of the modern day family.
One of the most beautiful sights to me is watching my two year old when he thinks no one is watching trusting his natural curiosities and desires playing in the garden lying in the wet mud on his tummy driving his two cars through a river he has created using a bucket of water, moving from this position to standing, walking around with his wheelbarrow for a few minutes and then returning to the task of lying down with his cars. He effortlessly and fearlessly follows his body’s and mind’s desires. Changing positions, resting, coming inside to warm up before returning to the garden. One of my biggest fears (as with most parents) is the prospect of the education system and its impact on my energetic and fiery son.
If you interested in exploring movement in the classroom PausePoints could be an ideal method for children to stretch, move, re-energize, reconnect, recharge without infringing on the demands of a teacher/ schools schedule.
I am a mother of two energetic and determined boys. Previously I’ve been a secondary school teacher of Drama and English in the UK and in India. I currently spend most of my time being creative and getting messy with my children. I like researching and creating wholesome and healthy vegetarian food and pottering in the garden but I mostly spend my time being a mum and a wife enjoying the learning curve that is immersing myself into the wellbeing of our family, experiencing harmony and chaos!